International Politics of Africa

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

This module examines the international politics of Africa since independence. It provides historical grounding in the ideas that African activists developed and the campaigns they fought, against slavery and colonialism that secured the independence of the continent, and then considers how independent African states dealt with the context that faced them: considering conflict and cooperation between African states, their insertion into the international order and their efforts to navigate and contest that order. In the second part of the module the emphasis shifts to the period since the end of the Cold War, considering increased Western military and broader political intervention in Africa, and African efforts to reckon with Western 'monopoly diplomacy' both through the search for 'African solutions' in regional and continental bodies including the African Union, and through relations with rising powers including Russia and China.  Throughout, emphasis is placed on the critical questioning of mainstream orthodoxies, both academic and policy-oriented.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Acquire a body of knowledge, applicable in both academic and policy/practitioner roles about: the history of African states' relations with each other and with non-African states; the major agendas of African collective diplomacy; and contemporary controversies.
  • Acquire an understanding of different analytical approaches to studying international politics, and sensitivity in the integration of theoretical and empirical materials.
  • Develop argumentation skills through structured critical and constructive discussion and exchange of ideas and interpretive angles with peers
  • Enhance writing skills that convey complex and nuanced insights and demonstrate analytical work at greater depth through a long essay at the end of the module


  • 2 hours seminar per week

Method of assessment

  • Assignment 1: 100%

Suggested reading

  • Ndlovu-Gatsheni, S. J. (2020). The cognitive empire, politics of knowledge and African intellectual productions: reflections on struggles for epistemic freedom and resurgence of decolonisation in the twenty-first century. Third World Quarterly, 1–20.
  • Clapham, C. (2020). Decolonising African Studies? Journal of Modern African Studies, 58(1), 137–153.
  • Frederick Cooper, ‘Africa and the Nation State’, Chapter 3 of Africa in the World ,Harvard University Press, 2014. Ebook via SOAS Library:
  • Christian Høgsbjerg, Remembering the Fifth Pan-African Congress, Leeds African Studies Bulletin 77 (Winter 2015/16), pp. 119-139.
  • Adom Gotachew, (2019) ‘Chapter 4’, Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination, Princeton University Press.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules